Sunday, April 29, 2007

Three more films at the Tribeca Film Festival; on track to seeing at least 30 films by the time this is over. The three today: "Live!", "Heckler" and "Shotgun Stories". The last was the most interesting, a regional (Arkansas) drama about a feud between estranged half-brothers.

Last night, Larry and i watched "The Mostly Unfabulous Social Life of Ethan Green" which we found rather tedious. These recent gay comedies (cf. "Adam and Steve", "Ethan Green", "Boy Culture") are all rather twee.

Anyway, have been thinking about movies and their meanings. For example: the French version of "Lady Chatterley" was well-done, but rather decorous. And (finally) it had everything but real passion, and without that, the Lawrentian themes can't fully emerge. But do most people care? So many people i've read have noted that they are above considering D. H. Lawrence a great writer. (It's rather like the 1950s, when Dickens was out of favor, as if he were too common for serious literary concern.) What's crazy is that the four-hour TV version of "Lady Chatterley" done by Ken Russell in the 1990s had more passion and gave more of a sense of what the novel was supposed to be about. (It is true that "Lady Chatterley's Lover" is second-rate Lawrence, it is not one of his truly great works, but that shouldn't diminish Lawrence's achievement.) Ken Russell's "Women in Love" was almost a travesty of an adaptation: it was over the top, and purple in the wrong way. But it did have Glenda Jackson (in a performance which is even more impressive now). This version of "Lady Chatterley" didn't risk appearing ridiculous, and, in doing so, missed out on reaching for the sublime.

Anyway, in terms of the social aspects, saw Wendy Liddell, Steve Kaplan showed up to "Shotgun Stories"... on the subway, saw Barbara Moore. Watching her, i was reminded of how strange it is now, to see movies like last year's "Notes on Marie Menken" and "Jack Smith and the Destruction of Atlantis" and this year's "A Walk Into the Sea" and "Black White + Gray: A Portrait of Sam Wagstaff and Robert Mapplethorpe", and to realize that people one knew, events one witnessed, etc. have now become the stuff of some sort of "history".

And it's like running into Marianne and Chris: running into the past, and suddenly remembering what one was trying to do so long ago, trying to create an art of utter self-critical awareness.

And also knowing that i refused (ever) to make pronouncements, to issue manifestos (which led so many critics to believe that i must have been naive or stupid, since no nonwhite person could be so hyper-critical). In her recent memoir, Yvonne Rainer talks about feeling stymied and stifled by the constant bringing-up of her manifesto from 1965, which was from one part of her career, yet it has defined how people view her work and its development. I never wanted that, but i also never thought that the white art establishment would be so stupid, so narrow, and so prejudiced. But that's besides the point.

The Tribeca Film Festival is so strange. When they had the preliminary press screenings, it was more conducive to... a kind of camaraderie. It's not that there aren't good movies: certainly, "Still Life" and "Lost in Beijing" were worthwhile; of course, there are a lot of movies like "Live!", a (tired) satire on television's search for ratings, a retread of "Network" with Eva Mendes recapitulating Faye Dunaway's hardedged executive. There are so many of these little American indie movies... and now a lot of the ones from last year are getting released. For example: two with Sigourney Weaver, "Snow Cake" and "The TV Set". Of course, one of them might break out of the pack (the way "transamerica" did), and that's what you hope for, but too many of them just weigh down the festival.


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